chicagophoenix.com - December 10th, 2012
As American society became more industrialized and modernized, we focused the same innovation to our foods in an effort to make them more affordable and accessible, resulting in processed foods. While this made food cheaper and allowed Americans of all walks access to more calories, it did not lead to better nutrition nor a healthier society. This change to a heavily-processed food supply also can be correlated to the rise in Type 2 diabetes.
So why are processed foods so bad and how is it linked to the rise in Type 2 diabetes? Until the turn of the century, most Americans either produced their own foods or bought them from local producers in an unprocessed state. With advancement in food storage and preservation, foods were altered to have longer shelf lives and foods once produced at home, like bread, could now be mass produced in baking factories. Mass production led to processed foods appearing cheaper by their convenience.
The act of processing a food product breaks down the item to its basic components, often leaving healthy and nutritional things behind, like fiber. While this allows manufacturers to store products, like flour or corn syrup, easier and longer, it’s not necessarily better for your body. I like to use the example of a log and stack of papers. If you were to set a log on fire, it would burn slowly and release energy and smoke over a prolonged period of time. However, take that same log and “process” it into paper then set that pile of paper on fire. It would burn quickly, releasing it’s energy and smoke over a very short period of time. The same happens with food. For example, corn in its whole form takes time to break down and release its energy. Corn syrup, on the other hand, beaks down very quickly once ingested, releasing its energy all at once.